I know this happens to all of us, but isn’t it frustrating when you start your day by brushing your teeth, and just before you put the toothbrush in your mouth, the fresh dollop of toothpaste falls right off the brush and into the sink? Sometimes, especially when my eyes aren’t fully open, I’ll be brushing my teeth, thinking I’m accomplishing a necessary morning task, only to realize after I’ve spent a couple of minutes or more brushing away, that the toothpaste is in the sink! So I get to start all over again.
It dawned on me that my spiritual life can sometimes reflect “toothpaste in the sink”. If I read scripture faithfully and have a morning devotion, but I don’t take the time to make sure that the passage that I’ve read is applied to some area of my life, I really haven’t accomplished very much. In James 1:22-25, it says (my editorial comment in italics)
“But prove yourselves doers of the word (keep the toothpaste on the brush), and not merely hearers who delude themselves (you think you’re brushing your teeth, but you’re really not). For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks at his natural face in a mirror; for once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was (and he failed to see the toothpaste in the sink). But the one who looks intently at the perfect law, the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer, this man shall be blessed in what he does (there is no toothpaste in the sink and his teeth are really clean!).”
All kidding aside, just as we know that toothpaste of today has all sorts of additives that are beneficial for our oral health (fluoride, baking soda, mouthwash, flavoring, peroxide, etc.) God’s Word is beneficial for our spiritual health. But if the Word is left in the sink, it does us no good whatsoever. When we read the Bible, do we ask ourselves “What am I to learn from this passage and how can I apply it to my life?” or do we go through the motions, check off the box that I did my Bible reading for the day, and get on with the day’s activities? To keep the toothpaste from falling off the brush, we might need to press a little harder and make sure that the paste has fully infiltrated the bristles, because that’s where it will do us the most good. God’s Word needs to be pressed down and become intertwined with our very being. If it’s not, we’re just hearers and not doers.
Check out the sink the next time you brush your teeth – then ask yourself if your spiritual life reflects any similarities.
Jim Whorton is an Executive Director for Compass – finances God’s Way. Jim and his wife, Christy, serve the Florida, Georgia and Alabama areas.